Apollo celebrates moon landing 50 years ago with town party | TribLIVE.com
Valley News Dispatch

Apollo celebrates moon landing 50 years ago with town party

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JOYCE HANZ | For the Tribune-Review
Aliyah Crowell of Apollo (left), Alexis Guy (center) and Danika Johns, both of Kiski Township, learn about a T39 virtual jet engine display manned by Air Force Staff Sgt. James Cormier at the 50th anniversary of the Apollo Moon Landing held Saturday in Apollo.
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JOYCE HANZ | For the Tribune-Review
Volunteer firefighter Brandon Bowersox (left) of Apollo Fire Co. No. 2 battles Rich Frain of Kiski Township’s Station 140 in a Battle of The Barrel competition at the 50th anniversary of the Apollo Moon Landing at Owen’s Grove in Apollo on Saturday.
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JOYCE HANZ | For the Tribune-Review
Alexander Suman, 16, of Spring Church, Kiski Township rappels during his descent at a free rock climbing tower provided by The Rock Church at the 50th anniversary of the Apollo Moon Landing on Saturday in Apollo.
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JOYCE HANZ | For the Tribune-Review
Apollo native David Knappenberger, 65, traveled from North Carolina specifically to attend Apollo’s moon landing celebration Saturday. He holds his newly acquired commerative postmarked Apollo Moon Landing envelopes, made possible by a collaboration between the Apollo Area Historical Society and the U.S. Postal Service. The commerative stamps and hand-canceled special postmark will be available at the Apollo post office until Aug. 20, 2019.
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JOYCE HANZ | For the Tribune-Review
David Knappenberger holds a specially designed U.S. Postal Service envelope with a new moon landing stamp at the moon landing anniversary celebration in Apollo on Saturday.
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JOYCE HANZ | For the Tribune-Review
Numerous free activities, including interacting with live birds from “That Guy With The Birds” were offered during the 50th anniversary of the Apollo Moon Landing celebration Saturday at Owens Grove in Apollo. Kenny Sprouse helps Eric Green, 9, of Upper Burrell get up close and personal with several parrots.
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JOYCE HANZ | For the Tribune-Review
Numerous free activities were offered during the 50th anniversary of the Apollo Moon Landing celebration Saturday at Owens Grove in Apollo.

Apollo was moonstruck Saturday — in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 moon landing.

Braving brutally hot temperatures under clear skies Saturday, hundreds gathered at Owens Grove and the surrounding grounds to eat, play, learn and reminisce about the day two American astronauts stepped onto the moon.

Presented by the Apollo Area Historical Society, Apollo Hose Company No. 2, the Apollo-Ridge Education Foundation and the Apollo Area Lions Club, the annual event took on a more nostalgic theme this year.

“It’s a really energetic event,” said Sue Ott, vice president of the historical society. “This was a collaborative effort between our organizations and we wanted to present an event that feels a little like 50 years ago — with old fashioned events like free nostalgic games for the kids.”

Free children’s events offered included a water balloon toss, marshmallow spoon race, duck pond, bucket toss, hula hoop jumps and rolls and more.

Apollo Postmaster Dale Walker was busy providing hand canceled postmarks to eager moon landing celebrants like Apollo native David Knappenberger, 65, who traveled from his home in North Carolina specifically to attend the celebration.

“Coming from Apollo, Pennsylvania in Armstrong County — this was important to me,” said Knappenberger, referencing astronaut Neil Armstrong’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind. “I used to skip school to watch the launches and landings. And I recall waiting and waiting on that day to get updates.

“And then, finally, I saw this grainy, black-and-white image on the television.”

The borough of Apollo first celebrated the landmark moon landing on July 21, 1969, a day after Armstrong’s and fellow astronaut Buzz Aldrin’s lunar stroll. Apollo’s original celebration included a parade and special U.S. postmark — and they’ve been celebrating ever since.

A day packed with activities

Events this year included an Apollo 11 interactive journey through the solar system, live entertainment, rock climbing wall, pizza and ice cream eating contests, an Air Force virtual jet engine display, food trucks, battle of the barrel fire hose competitions between local area volunteer fire departments, a car cruise, quilt show and an educational exotic pet presentation by “That Guy With The Birds.”

Lukas Cyphert, 11, of North Apollo scarfed down an entire cheese pizza the fastest, winning first place during the pizza-eating contest. He took home gift certificate from sponsor Fox’s Pizza.

“It was fun,” Lukas said. “I entered the contest because I knew I could be first!”

The festivities ran from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

“We enjoyed the flea market this year, that was new,” said longtime moon landing attendee Jessica Moon, 31, of Kiski Township. “I wasn’t born when they landed on the moon but we go every year and it’s always nice and the kids have fun.”

Those unable to attend Saturday may receive the commemorative hand-stamped postmark, available at the post office in Apollo until Aug. 20.

Apollo residents Joe Kerr Jr. and Dolly McCoy provided the art designs for the commemorative stamp and envelope.

“We were motivated to provide this because it is the 50th anniversary,” said Walker, the postmaster.

Joyce Hanz is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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